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What Your Anxious Partner Wants You To Know About Them

anxious partner

Midlife & Beyond Dating: Illa Lynn

As we continue our journey on attachment theory and styles let’s explore the complex maze of anxious attachment style.

Let’s learn how to navigate the challenges anxious partners bring to the relationship. Since many keep this to themselves out of fear of judgment, criticism, or abandonment, I will take the liberty to speak on their behalf. Here is what your anxious lover would want you to know. 

1. The Need For Constant Reassurance:

As anxious-attached I often find myself trapped in a cycle of worry, seeking constant reassurance to soothe my nerves. To feel secure, I will ask for reassurance, and it may sound something like this: “Do you love me?” Are we okay? What’s on your mind?” etc. With my constant bids for connection and attention, I will come across controlling, even though I highly fear being controlled. In such a situation, you may feel micromanaged or suffocated by my constant need for assurance. Chances are that you will become agitated and get angry with me, which will cause us to have arguments, screaming matches, and you asking me for space.

“Expressing your love and commitment to me regularly is music to my ears, because words of affirmation are my primary love language.”

Anxious Attachment Style:

When this happens, what is the best way to handle this situation? 

By offering frequent affirmations, such as “I am here for you,” “I am not going anywhere,” or “I will be offline for a couple of hours, but I will text you right before/after…”, you can create a sense of safety. It is crucial for you to communicate with me consistently and transparently, because this is how I feel that I can trust you.

Expressing your love and commitment to me regularly is music to my ears, because words of affirmation are my primary love language. When you do so, I feel that you care and my anxiety goes away. On the contrary when I don’t hear from you for an extended period of time, I will spend every waking minute staring at the phone awaiting your text or call. This agony will make me go into a frenzy and I will find it hard to self-soothe. This is why you might find dozens of text messages on your phone in a matter of hours and think that I am psycho.

Predictable routines and behavior will create harmony in our relationship and reduce anxiety for both of us, because let’s be frank, this dynamic can be anxiety inducing to you too.

2. The Need For Closeness:

Anxiously attached people often struggle with separation anxiety. There is a strong desire to be physically close to you (almost clinging to you), because that is how we feel loved. When you are distant, I feel emotionally detached from you and fear that you will leave me and give up on us. My world feels small and everything around me crumbles when we are not together. These emotions are real and can have a strong hold on me but believe me I try to be less needy.

This, as I learned, stems from something in my childhood, when I experienced abandonment by my parents and felt all alone. When these memories get triggered, I may do crazy things like drive to your house at midnight, show up at your work, or act out of character. While some would consider this behavior to be a big red flag, as it is borderline stalker-like, you can help me keep this in check when you are present and communicate frequently. 

Best remedy for my abandonment issues is your closeness. It helps me heal and that is very important to me to have a partner who is open and who is able to provide me with emotional support. Sometimes it is as simple as sitting on the couch together reading a book or watching TV with our legs touching. 

I am aware that you being around all the time is not realistic, so when we are apart I will try my hardest not to bother you. Setting gentle healthy boundaries with me is vital, but I am not well versed in that realm, so I will rely on you to take the lead on setting them for us. 

“Anxious attached individuals over analyze every nuance of a relationship.”

How Can We Effectively Manage This Abandonment Fear?

Be open about your desire to create healthy independence and share your need for personal space with me. For a relationship to thrive and grow together we got to work on choosing intentional space. This will be hard for me to do, but I will try because I care about you, especially since I read that you might develop an avoidant attachment style if I lean in too much.

Have you ever wondered why some people trigger you, while others make you feel relaxed and at ease? This is precisely why. Research on attachment styles and theory in a long-term relationship has shown that when both partners are anxious, one is bound to become avoidant and pull away eventually. This scares me, so I will give it my best not to be too clingy or too needy. Naturally for this to be long-term we both need to work on healing our insecure attachments. And if you are the secure partner, I will depend on you to help me get to a secure place. I know it might be a tall order to ask you this, but having this support is vital for me to be the partner you want and deserve.

3. Reading Between The Lines:

Anxious attached individuals over analyze every nuance of a relationship. We are hypervigilant and overthink minor things. We also fall into the trap of catastrophizing and blowing things out of context, unintentionally. Our mind can become our worst enemy.

Research in behavioral psychology indicates that this emotional monitoring is a trauma response. People who are anxious need reassurance that their relationship is safe and that their partner will be there for them. Knowing this keeps me at peace and anxiety-free. When you are in a relationship with someone like me, assumptions and jumping to conclusions are common occurrences, again unintended.

It is my nervous system dysregulation. What might be helpful for you is to learn how to communicate effectively with me in those moment, if we wish to continue building a relationship fostered on patience and understanding.

What Can You Do To Ease My Emotional Monitoring?

“Learning new approaches to dealing with this situation requires intentional work and openness on both out parts.”

Transparent communication is necessary to ease my tendency to monitor everything. Avoid ambiguity by expressing intentions, emotions, and expectations clearly. I tend to read between the lines a lot, so the clearer and direct you are the better. Be patient in providing reassurance when I need it and encourage us to have an open dialogue. Please don’t lash out at me, as that makes me sad and afraid. 

By keeping communication lines clear and open it is less likely that I will overthink, assume, or leap to conclusions. Learning new approaches to dealing with this situation requires intentional work and openness on both our parts.

3 Skills To Use With Your Anxious Attached Partner:

1. BuildPredictability:
  • Establishing predictable routines and rituals can provide a sense of peace for anxious individuals. Consistency in actions and communication helps create a secure environment, reducing anxiety and building trust over time.
2. Be Emotional Available:
  • Being emotionally available is crucial for partners of anxious individuals. Actively listening, validating emotions, and showing empathy contribute to a sense of safety. A partner who is emotionally available fosters an environment where the anxious individual feels heard and understood.
3. Encourage Individual Growth:
  • Anxious individuals benefit from partners who encourage personal growth and independence. Supporting individual pursuits and celebrating achievements outside the relationship helps build confidence and trust. A partner’s encouragement of personal development contributes to a well-rounded and secure attachment style.

Loving The Anxious Attachment Style:

When you understand and navigate the intricacies of an anxious attachment style you get to experience a profound growth and lasting connection. By recognizing behaviors like perpetual worrying, the need for proximity, and overthinking, partners can implement thoughtful strategies to foster safety and trust in the long term. This can be learned and perfected with intention and consistency. 

Consistent affirmation, transparent communication, and the encouragement of individual growth are powerful tools in building a resilient and thriving relationship with an anxious-attached partner. Remember, love is a journey, and requires intentional action, understanding and commitment, so you as a couple can forge a path to a secure and enduring love connection.

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About the Author:

Illa Lynn is a former corporate health care leader turned Life Coach who specializes in Relationship Coaching for women. In addition to her ten years of academic and professional training, she specializes in dating after 40. Specifically dating after divorce, or toxic love. Using her psychology background and intuitive nature, Illa helps women open up to love again. In three steps, Illa guides women to create lasting, authentic relationships founded on transparency, respect, and trust. Follow Illa on LinkedIN for more tips and tricks on dating.